Tennyson Coleman doesn’t believe in luck. Instead, he believes in being prepared to go above and beyond when an opportunity comes his way.
If there’s one thing that this Temple University student knows how to do, it’s rise to the occasion.
That’s exactly what he did when he had his eyes on a competitive internship. Though the company told him that he wasn’t their first choice on paper, it didn’t deter him. He got the internship anyway. He did so by being prepared and by producing an “elevator pitch” that caught someone’s eye.
Tennyson will be the first to tell you that growing up, he wasn’t the most confident person. Early in his life he says that he was raised in a bad neighborhood and without a father figure. But instead of complaining, he dreamed big and worked hard.
“I was always the smallest guy in class,” he said, “but I countered that by being the smartest.”
We sat down with Tennyson to learn more about his story, his passion for music and how Greek life impacted his college experience.
What’s unique about your story?
My story is one of always rising to the occasion. I’ve never let my present circumstances dictate where I see myself in the future. I grew up without a father figure, lived in a bad neighborhood early on, the list goes on.
I was always the smallest guy in class, but I countered that by being the smartest. Currently, I am finishing up an internship with one of my favorite companies in the world, but I wasn’t always certain that I would even land it. I was told that I wasn’t their top choice on paper at first. Instead of this deflating me, I took that as a challenge. I pride myself in giving my all even when it seems the odds are against me.
When you applied for an internship, you were told that you weren’t their “first choice on paper.” However, you still landed the internship. How did you do it?
I’m not a big believer in luck. However, I am the biggest proponent of “preparation meeting opportunity.” I created an elevator pitch video that initially caught management’s eye, but I knew I had to do more.
Before my interview I prepared like crazy. I did my homework. By the time of the interview, I was able to ask questions that showed off my preparation. Since I did research, I knew which of my skills would benefit the company most so I played those up. I would say 80 percent of the interview was me asking questions. In fact, the interview was only supposed to take 30 minutes, but it lasted nearly 2 hours. I left feeling as though I left the best impression possible.
What’s something that not many people know about you that has defined who you are today?
Music has shaped me into the person I am today. Music has always been my first love. I started singing when I was five years old. I learned to play the piano, drums, and guitar at the age of eight.
Growing up I was never the most confident person. I never felt like I fit in with most people, but once I picked up music again (after a few years hiatus), it provided an outlet that helped me break out of my shell. Music helped me cope with day-to-day anxiety. It gave me a way to connect with people I normally wouldn’t feel compelled to.
I joined the jazz band, advanced vocal ensemble, and a dance company in high school. I sang in an acapella group my first semester in college, and it really broadened my horizons creatively and socially. Although I did not choose to pursue music as my primary career path, you can still find me performing from time to time at small events.
What role has Greek Life played in your college experience?
Initially, I had no interest in Greek Life. During my freshman year, my friends talked about it, but I felt like it wasn’t my thing. Fast forward to senior year and I am pretty much helping to run the show here.
I was named school wide Greek God sophomore year. I put together my chapter’s largest recruitment effort ever the next year, and now I am serving as our council’s president after winning Temple’s Greek Man of the Year.
I never would have thought I would make the impact that I did. I just wanted to do my part. None of this happened overnight though. Hopefully I have inspired people to be diligent in the small things, for one day it may be many.
You get to invite 5 influential people to a dinner party (currently living). Who are they and why?
- President Obama: This may seem like a cliché response, but I think President Obama has been a strong influence for young people in this country, especially people of color. Politics aside, he seems like a cool guy to have at any dinner party. He would be insightful, but also entertaining. I’d like to know what a normal day is like for someone who has one of the most stressful jobs in the world.
- Peyton Manning: He is the reason I fell in love with my favorite sport: American football. Manning is a class act who is the personification of the word “dedication.”
- Dr. Ben Carson: I remember reading “Gifted Hands” as a child and wanting to be like Carson when I grew up. My grandmother (who grew up in Carson’s native Baltimore) spoke highly of his feats, such as separating conjoined twins and becoming a notable neurosurgeon. I would love to learn more about his story in person.
- Ronda Rousey: Rousey isn’t just the most popular female fighter on the world. I think she’s currently the most popular MMA fighter period. To me she is someone who is proving that women can be as notable as men in places that were traditionally reserved for the latter. This is important to me because I was primarily raised mainly by women and I believe that all people should be treated equally. Rousey is also funny, as seen in her interviews and various cameo’s in Television and Film. I think I would learn a thing or two from her.
- Michael Jackson: I know the question says “currently living”, but I feel as though his spirit lives forever. Michael is by far my biggest celebrity influence of all time. He made an impact on the stage with his dance moves, and off the stage with his influential words and his charitable deeds. Jackson is the reason I learned to dance and continued my passion for music. My only regret is never getting to meet him in real life, so if I could, I would invite him to my dinner party.